There were very few physicians in the Ozarks of the late 19th to early 20th century, but there were medicine women or "granny- women" who served the area. Many residents used folk remedies they had inherited from the past. Some worked, some worked despite their toxicity and some didn't work at all. Here are some unusual and strange folk medicines and remedies used in the early Ozarks:
- To cure yellow jaundice, eat nine chicken lice on bread and butter.
- For your heart, scrape the black stuff off the skillet and use it in a tea (the creosote stimulated the heart).
- For eczema (acne), rub on black henís blood.
- To care for colds, rub on coal oil (kerosene or turpentine) or rub on a mixture of skunk grease and mutton tallow.
- For a goiter on neck: take the hand of a dead person and have the hand touch the goiter.
- For warts, rub them with a dish rag and bury the rag; go to the crossroads and throw nine rocks in different directions; or you could charm them away.
- For stomach problems, consume the pulverized lining of chicken gizzards.
- For sinus problems, find mold on the door of an underground cellar.
- Breathe nine times deeply into the mold for each nostril and make a cross in the middle of the hand each time. Do this three times every other day for nine days (what they were getting from the mold was penicillin)
- To stop bleeding, read Ezekiel 16:6, make a circle in the hand of the one bleeding, draw a cross in it and continue to do this for a couple minutes.
- For childhood asthma, measure the childís height on a board. At that place on the board, auger a hole and place a lock of childís hair in the hole. Then plug the hole with a hickory cork. When the child grows taller than the hole, the asthma will be gone.
From the commentary by Jeff Barber, MU Extension Service for Silver Threads, August/September 2009 edition